Blog Archives

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

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The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a vision. It might not seem a conventional vision but don’t doubt that’s what it is. Director Isao Takahata, the other genius behind Studio Ghibli, responsible for the delightful My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999) and the gutting Grave of the Fireflies (1988), has done something that perhaps no other major animation director has achieved in recent memory — a complete reinvention of the technique of animation.

If you’ve already seen the documentary Madman have … (read more)

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Studio Ghibli films on Blu-ray

For years to come, Studio Ghibli fans will no doubt remember 2013 fondly as a year that has brought two new releases from the great animation studio: Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Isao Takahata’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya. The last time this happened was 25 years ago when Miyazaki’s My Neighbour Totoro and Takahata’s Graves of the Fireflies were simultaneously released in Japanese theaters. So there is really no better time than now to revisit some of … (read more)

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Only Yesterday (1991)

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This is indeed a surprise – a Ghibli film that is underwhelming. However it is not necessarily a bad thing. Let me explain. When I watched the first two thirds of this film, I found it sufficiently compelling but strangely uninspiring. Dull even, something I don’t associate with Ghibli films. However the last 40 minutes turned it around for me. Undoubtedly the Ghibli magic has worked its charm again, but how? I suspect the leisurely pace of Only Yesterday is … (read more)

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My Neighbours the Yamadas (1999)

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I always know that I’m in for an anime treat if I’m seeing a Studio Ghibli [that’s Ghi-bu-ri] film but even I was completely taken by surprise by My Neighbours the Yamadas. The quality of work here still abides by the high achievement previously set by awe-inspiring films such as Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa, My Neighbour Totoro just to name a few.

OK, the first surprise is the look of the film – simple, yet warm aquarelle/ watercolour … (read more)

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Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

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“To live is everything”, Isao Takahata says as he opens his interview about The Grave of Fireflies. This comment encapsulates the overall message of the film and is indeed the persistent action of the two main characters, 12 year old Seita and his four year old sister Setsuko. Against major devastation on their home, family and spirit, the two children try their best to survive, post extensive firebombing of Japan in 1944.

However from the outset, we know that … (read more)

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Panda! Go Panda! (1972)

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What the synopsis above doesn’t tell you is how Mimiko ended up with such a family. Mimiko’s grandmother goes away on a short trip and after sending her off at the train station, Mimiko comes home to find a baby panda asleep on her porch. Before long a big (and I mean big) papa Panda comes looking for baby panda. Inspired by this cute panda duo and perhaps reminded of her own orphan status, Mimiko immediately asks the pandas to … (read more)

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The Cat Returns (2002)

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Let me just say up front that The Cat Returns is a delight. I don’t mean that in some hippy, old growth forest way. I mean I was so filled with such pure joy on leaving the cinema that I thought my chest would burst. How many films can you say that about?

The Cat Returns is everything Disney animation used to be. While the Disney corporate vulture picks at the bones of its former greatness producing corpses that imitate … (read more)

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